posted by Gene on Dec 10
Yesterday I made some exasperated comments to my roommates regarding the nature of their entertainment. It wasn’t, and isn’t, a very big deal, but this aspect of their group has been bothering me for some time. I think I’m getting close to an understanding, so I hope writing this will help me push through the conclusions that can be made, and the ambiguities that must be left unknown.
I have difficulty explaining the behavior in question, but I think it boils down to picking on things, and people. I know that sounds really lame, but let me try to explain.
In my interactions with my roommates, and a certain group of people they hang out with, it seems as though their primary activity is making fun of stuff, and the people associated with that stuff. Now, making fun of stuff, in the strictest sense, isn’t really a “good” activity, but I understand it’s appeal, and I obviously am not one who never criticizes for entertainment. So why does this bug me?
Reason #1: the quantity
I totally understand having a pet peeve, or getting into a mood and occasionally ranting about something. I’m kinda doing that right now. But it seems like the only pleasure my roommates can find is in gleeful proclamations of the “gayness” of everything around them. Part of my distaste of this particular situation is the ubiquity of the action.
In my pondering on the subject I’ve come to a few conclusions as to why things are not as bad as they seem. I think each of the individuals involved have lives outside of tearing down everything they see, but I’m not a part of that. Aaron has music, Kelsey has art and school and stuff, and Kim probably has Dancing with the Stars or something. Regardless, their constructive interests rarely overlap with mine, or each others. As a consequence, they unite around their destructive overlaps, which are sizeable. This effect is magnified by Aaron’s confrontational and obstinate assuredness on all things, and the unwillingness of normal people to fight about everything. So, since I am mostly only observing this crowd in groups of 2 or more, and usually Aaron is one of the 2, the odds of the discussion being about something everyone thinks is good, is pretty low.
Reason #2: forced enrollment
This issue is pretty inherent in the system, and there’s not too much my roommates can do about it. Basically, their group usually decides quickly, or has already decided in some previous meeting, that they hate something. Once they’ve decided, it means you are no longer allowed to enjoy, or attempt to enjoy, that thing. Of course, this is only in certain group situations. They don’t control what I do on my own, and don’t try to.
The quintessential example would be the group watching a movie. Often a movie is picked already with hating it in mind, just because it looks stupid, or because someone has already seen it and declared it stupid. In these cases, the ridiculing begins immediately, so someone who hasn’t decided to hate it cannot easily view the content to make a determination of its quality, since there is loud mockery going on over the dialog.
Like I said, there’s not much that can be done in these situations. It’s just a difference of opinion, and really two separate activities being tried in the same place. It would be like trying to watch Mystery Science Theater 3000 for the actual film being shown, you’re just not doing it right. It does lead nicely to reason 3, though.
Reason 3: Seeking it out
I think humor is a good response to horrible things. It can turn something that upsets you into something that brings you joy, which is a great way to make your life suck less. However, this principle only makes sense if you it apply it to horrible things that you can’t avoid. Once you seek out horrible things for this purpose, the system breaks down.
Now, I think my roommates and their friends do seek out horrible things. They might disagree. I know Aaron says his Netflix queue is full of, “things that look interesting,” when I suggest he’s purposely putting stupid %$#@ in it. But I don’t think that’s true. He doesn’t treat them as such. He’s more likely to say, “Hey, come watch this gay documentary,” and then mock everything from opening to closing credits than he is to actually watch the movie and see if it was, in fact, interesting. And he doesn’t come up with very many diamonds in the rough, like I suspect he would, if he was actually sifting through the less popular products in life, looking for things of particular interest to his niche.
So, I could be wrong, and they might not be seeking out horrible things when they read the Craig’s List’s casual encounters or texts from last night, but so what if I’m not? Their life, they can do what they want. Which is true, I agree. If they really find more entertainment in ridiculing horrible things than in partaking in quality products, then that’s what they should do. I just am not in the same situation, and so rarely want to join in, or observe.
Which leads to reason #4: the quality
This whole issue wouldn’t be such a big deal if my roommates were better at making fun of things. I just don’t find the things they say humorous most of the time. I guess it’s hard to keep up originality given Reason #1.
I think some of you out there, when I describe picking a horrible movie, and then making fun of it instead of watching it, are thinking of some Mystery Science Theater 3000 type scenario, but that’s not how I perceive things. I like those scenarios, but they are about as difficult to come by as actually good movies. You can’t just make fun of any ol’ movie. The badness of the movie has to be of a specific type and at a specific level to make making fun of it really entertaining. If it’s not like that, then you end up getting what I was complaining about, which is repeats of what was said in a funny voice, or the replacement of random words with, any combination of dick, butt, poop, tit, etc. or just kinda stale jokes in general.
Now, obviously, much of this is taste and nobody really controls that, and also, of course, they’re not supposed to be doing a performance quality level of mockery for my benefit all the time, but come on. I mean, using “gay” as an insult is sometime humorous when mocking an individual who would do so seriously, but they’ve used it to the extent that they are now the people it would be funny to use it against. And immature “naughty” words like poopy head were kinda ironic at the age when our peers were all swearing like sailors, but they’ve been ironically immature for longer than they were really immature at this point.
Ok, so everything above that line I wrote like 2 weeks ago. I never published the post because I didn’t want to cause unnecessary strife in the home life, and because I wanted to tweak it and make it funnier. But, ya know, screw it.
That stuff up there really has no conclusion, and a good conclusion isn’t really springing instantly to mind here. I guess the conclusion should be that they can do what they want, including doing little but belittle their own choices in entertainment. I just wish they wouldn’t, so I wouldn’t be so bored/annoyed. But I can help the situation too by having books and stuff on hand I can retreat to. I suspect we’ll survive. Especially now that I monopolize the TV w/ Modern Warfare 2.